Netroots Nation, an Appreciation

Mark Kleiman offers his impressions of his first-ever Netroots Nation:

I’m at Netroots Nation (formerly Yearly Kos). Having attended California Democratic Party conventions, I find NN strikingly lower on b.s. and rah-rah and pitched at a much higher intellectual level. I’ve never been to CPAC, so I can’t do that comparison, but there’s remarkably little “red meat.” Absoutely nothing resembling a Coulter or a Limbaugh.

The evening session just ended had six or seven speakers, leading up to Bill Clinton. I’m easily bored and annoyed by political speechifying, but there wasn’t a single talk I would have preferred not to listen to. The tone was mostly serious and analytical, with no more than a decent minimum of collective self-congratulation.

Based on my impressions of this year’s event, as well as the past two years’ worth, I think that’s a little bit overstated but basically correct. I’m always impressed by the depth of people’s genuine interest in the issues and in trying to better understand how we can make a difference in the political world. I linked yesterday to Henry Farrell’s somewhat skeptical “Do The Netroots Matter?” article, and I’ll happily grant many skeptical points. Still, I can never escape the sense that what we’re witnessing is an important part of a story of the rebirth of civic engagement in the United States facilitated by new social media.